It was a game short on moments of attacking quality, such was the defensive resolve of Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid at the Etihad Stadium. But then Phil Foden entered the field and all that changed. He made the difference for Manchester City.
Against tiring legs, his impact was immediate, his arrival altering the dynamic of the game in an instant. He was able to take the ball in a tight area – and there were plenty of them against this Atletico side – before finding the pass that City had been missing.
It was no coincidence. Others would have popped the ball backwards when receiving possession where he did. Foden had the technique and the sense of adventure to look forwards instead. The space did not last long but it was long enough.
It was the moment that decided the match but it was not Foden’s only moment. He got away again soon after and then found the best ball of the night, bent in behind the Atletico defence with the outside of his boot to find that man De Bruyne yet again.
In a little over 20 minutes, he did enough to be the man of the match. He might even be City’s best player now. Omitted from the starting line-up, he still found a way. Expect him to be in the line-up against Liverpool. Foden is just too good to be denied.